Dún Laoghaire harbour accounts must be published, says Senator

Former harbour company director says council must not be saddled with €38m debt

The former director of Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company has called for the release of its final accounts. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

The former director of Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company has called for the release of its final accounts. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

 

The accounts of Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company must be published and presented to the Oireachtas without delay, a former director of the company has said.

Independent Senator Victor Boyhan, who was a director of the harbour company for 10 years, said the final 2017 accounts for the defunct company should have been published within six months of its dissolution.

The company was dissolved and control of the harbour was transferred to Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council last October,leaving the council with liabilities of almost ¤40 million.

Mr Boyhan has warned Minister for Local Government Eoghan Murphy that he and the Government could find themselves open to legal action if they saddle the local authority with this debt.

“There might be a viable legal case against the Minister for the transfer of the Harbour Company to DLR Council with substantial debt. It might come down to an interpretation of ‘liabilities’,” he said. “Did the Minister fail in oversight of the Harbour company resulting in this debt?”

Dún Laoghaire councillors were on Monday last told that no Government funding has been provided to cover €38 million in debts from the defunct harbour company. Council chief executive Philomena Poole said she was “stunned” the transfer of the harbour to the council “didn’t come with some form of funding”.

Audited accounts

Mr Boyhan said successive ministers for tourism would have been aware of the financial difficulties the harbour company was in and it was incumbent on both Mr Murphy and Minister for Tourism Shane Ross to ensure the council was not left to bear the burden of the “inherited” debts of the harbour company.

Mr Boyhan said it was his understanding that the final accounts had not been audited at the time the council was given ownership of the harbour.

“I am calling for audited accounts to be presented to the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government and will ask the Minister to arrange to have copies of Dún Laoghaire Harbour audited accounts and report laid before the House of the Oireachtas,” he said.

“It is important to stress that the Council had no direct control nor oversight of the former Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company during this period. However they now have a major financial liability which has the potential to drain council funds received from Rate Payers and Local Property Tax Payers.”

The council’s director of services Therese Langan said “technical issues” had arisen in relation to the final accounts of the harbour company.

“The council were not the managers of, nor had oversight of, the former harbour company accounts during this period and is working with the auditors on a daily basis to resolve this issue of sign off,” she said.

Once the accounts had been audited, they would, together with a copy of the auditor’s report, be presented to Mr Murphy, she said.